Beautiful From Within: The Surprising Power of Nutrition for Hair, Skin, and Nails by Lewis D

Beautiful From Within: The Surprising Power of Nutrition for Hair, Skin, and Nails by Lewis D

Author:Lewis, D.
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: amazon.com
Published: 2015-03-15T16:00:00+00:00


Chapter 6

Hard as Nails

Nails adorn our fingers and toes, and all twenty of these hard tissues allow us to grip, tear, scratch, and hold. They also are one of the most decorated parts of the human body. Our nails are definitely one of our body’s premier “beauty tissues” and we spend literally countless hundreds of millions of dollars on them every year- polishing, decorating, and mani/pedi curing them.

Nails are the human version of many animal’s claws. Strangely they are also closely related in their composition to hair- and horns. Both hair and nails (and horns) are composed principally of protein, and both share the same protein as their major constituent- keratin. Keratin gives tissues their special hardness and strength, imparting to them the specialized functions they need for protecting the body from danger, accidents, or abuse.

Polishing nails is a custom that dates way back in human history. Nail polish can certainly highlight nails and give them a dramatic, fancy look. And it can also serve to cover up nails that are weak, brittle, split, ridged or blotchy. All of these are signs that our nails may not be as healthy as they could be. We may cover up the underlying problem in this way- but it certainly won’t get to the root cause of poor nail growth or health.

As we have seen, “beautiful from within” nutrition has a very significant, even crucial role to play in the health and appearance of our skin and hair. But its benefits extend to the tips of our fingers and toes as well! Nutrition plays a key role in nail health, just as it does for all of the other tissues in our body.

It is no secret that nails are one of the harder tissues in our bodies. Teeth, bones, and nails are all really tough, hard tissues. Teeth and bones are primarily a mixture of phosphorus and calcium salts in association with some proteins. Nails, along with hair, by contrast, are mostly proteins; and a unique one in particular- keratin.

Obviously nails and hair are not the same. Externally they are structurally and functionally quite different tissues altogether. But they do share a similar chemical and molecular make-up. As we learned in the section on hair, keratin is a rather unique protein molecule in that it has a strong sulfur component in it. That is because two of the principle amino acids in the keratin protein molecule are L-cysteine and L-methionine, both sulfur-containing amino acids. Sulfur amino acids form extraordinarily strong bonds, giving them their characteristic strength and rigidity- perfect for making strong tissues like hair fibers and nail plates. In nails the keratin is “glued” together, like a laminated wood board. Such layering imparts much of the strength to our nails, and allows them to be the specialized body parts that we need, such as for peeling an orange, or gripping on to something (or somebody). Surprisingly, calcium is not that much of a factor in contributing to nail hardness, like we find in bones and the skeleton.



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